I’m thrilled to announce that I finally captured an infamous LADY KILLER called CEE LO GREEN on Polaroid. Besides a gambling game of dices CEE LO is also the stage name from THOMAS DECARLO CALLAWAY residing from Atlanta.
It is impossible to be unfamiliar with Cee Lo, a singer-songwriter, rapper ànd producer, especially since his mainstream presence on tv and radio is officially ranking ‘everywhere and every time’ status, but let me take you to a mini You-Tube journey through his career, because boy o boy, there is MUCH to tell about Cee Lo.
He sure came from a long but interesting journey to arrive at the current state of his career. Before Cee Lo concurred global hearts with his solo career he was in different groups and collectives. I remember spotting Cee Lo for the very first time in the excellent song and video for ‘Trans DF Express’. I’m still waiting for public transport to be so funky as this video. My train just smells funky.
But before that, the man already had a career behind him as a member from the infamous (Dirty South!) GOODIE MOB, (short for ‘The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit’) sprung from a 90’s hiphop/soul/r’n’b collective called THE DUNGEON FAMILY, also known as the nest where OUTKAST flew out from. Definitely check out these 3 excellent Goodie Mob tracks: CELL THERAPY, BLACK ICE and SOUL FOOD.
After 3 Goodie Mob albums, Cee Lo decided it was time to move on towards other projects and a step closer to a solo career. His first solo album ‘Cee-Lo Green and his Perfect Imperfections.’ was very well received but a mainstream success was not in the cards at that period. ‘Closet Freak’ is one of the tracks on the album.
His second solo album ‘Cee-Lo Green…Is The Soul Machine.’ contained collaborations with artists like Ludacris, T.I., Pharrell Williams and Timbaland. Again, although well received, the album didn’t get any major attention. Check out the song ‘Ill Be Around’ produced by Timbaland.
In between he also appeared on other artists songs, remember this sweet collaboration with KELIS?
And let’s not forget this track Lauryn Hill wrote for Santana.
And Ow, did you know that Cee Lo ‘s writings were responsible for the success of this track we all love to hate but still know every word from the song? Well. At least I do. I’ll admit it. When Cee-Lo decided to put his solo-career on hold to team up with producer Danger Mouse, thàt’s when things started to get really interesting. We all know how it felt the first time we heard the epic song ‘Crazy’ from the GNARLS BARKLEY ‘St.Elsewhere’ album, right? Obviously, I can’t leave out this one.
From the second Gnarls Barkley album called ‘The Odd Couple’ the song ‘Who’s Gonna Save My Soul’ stuck to my heart like glue. And of course the track ‘Going On’ came with a very cool video shot in Jamaica, remember this?
Can’t leave out the excellent track called RUN, with the Justin Timberlake cameo can I?
Btw, it took you 15 youtube videos to get to this point of Cee Lo’s career, you might as well stick around for the rest. Cee Lo was still working on his next and third solo album when he was forced to release his first single from his upcoming THE LADY KILLER album because of an internet leak. He put a song called FUCK YOU online and well…you know the history right? The song got 2 million plays in less than a week and it didn’t even hit the radio! There wasn’t even a video out and the song was a world-wide-web hit record! Two weeks after the online release, this video came out to accompany the track and demand worldwide web and radio attention because of the swearing title but foremost because of the timeless song content , to which probably everybody in the whole wide world can relate to.
The fact that Cee Lo couldn’t get out of releasing the track with a more radio-friendly title, ( the lame ‘Forget You’ ) only brought him even more world wide attention. I think we can all agree that you’ve officially arrived Super-Star-Status, when you make videos with Eva Mendes no?
My favorite track from Cee Lo’s third solo album is definitely the sugar-coated I WANT YOU track. I’ve heard it the first time on Gilles Peterson his BBC radio 1 show and I simply adored it from beginning to end.
There you have it. The slow but steady rise from a truly talented star. Cee Lo is so big at the moment, he made it to a jury member into the NBC talentshow called ‘The Voice.’ The thing I like about Cee Lo the most is the fact that whàt he sings, the lyrics of his songs, or even simple chorus collaborations always stick with me for some reason. It’s always a message in one way or another and his lyrics always manage to touch me. The fact that his parents are ministers and as a child Cee Lo spend a lot of his time in church might have to do something with that.
I think I gave you a pretty good Cee Lo carrière recap. Let’s move on to the next chapter.
This is the story.
I had to be very patient to get this Polaroid. The first time I went hunting for a Cee Lo Polaroid was actually in Amsterdam, october 30th 2010. Together with a friend I booked a little hotel in Amsterdam and we drove straight from Ostend to Amsterdam. Now. The minute I checked in to my hotel room and checked my mail, I found out that the concert was cancelled. There you are in Amsterdam. For nothing. I was seriously bummed, but I tried to keep positive and me and my friend decided we would treat ourself with some excellent sushi and go to a cool bar afterwards to have some drinks and enjoy the fact that we were in Amsterdam. But sometimes. Positive intentions are overshadowed by dark clouds of Murphy’s Law. And me and Murphy. We go waaaayyy back. I left the hotel wearing some brand new suede wedges, ready for a fun night out in Amsterdam, when I … fell. That’s all there is to say basically. I fell.
I can fall -easily- 5 times a day. If you hang around me long enough, you will see how easy it is for me to fall. It’s just a part of me. Besides. We all remember what happened with this SNOOP DOGG story right? This time I fell wearing scary high wedges, and I fell rìght onto the point of a metal rack holding bikes. I was sò embarrassed to fall after only, what..? – like 10 steps ? – that I immediately got up and started to laugh with myself. My friend couldn’t stop laughing, he was shocked about how HARD I fell just from walking the street untill he suddenly stopped laughing and said with big eyes: “Ow Ouni…this is not looking good…” The blood was pouring out on my ripped stockings and on my shoes,and I just looked at it, kept laughing and said:” It’s ok, we just need to go to the hotel and take care of it.” I took one step… and the pain that came out of my knee almost made me fall again and yup. I started to cry. This was not just a simple fall. This was a case of SBI. (*Serious Blog Injury)
I jumped back to the hotel on one leg, supported by my friend. The receptionist raised a brow when we came back in, I mean, we only left 5 minutes ago, and he immediately went to look for a little first aid kit. The damage was already done, there was a big chunk of flesh hanging lose on my knee, I could not even walk on my leg anymore and jumping on 1 other leg was hurting my other so there was nothing else to do than pay the Amsterdam E.R. a visit. Well…there is a first time for everything..?
Right before I left the hotel the receptionist said: “Excuse me Miss, but did you fall because you were smoking marijuana? A lot of tourist smoke for the first time in Amsterdam and they get into trouble because they can’t handle the haze.” My friend bursted out laughing and I, not really amused, said: “Trust me sir. I don’t hàve to smoke pot to fall randomly. I wish I hàd smoked. Then at least it would make SENSE to fall the way I did. Besides, do I look like a rookie-stoner!?” I left the hotel shaking my head, jumping on one leg, cursing, crying and moaning at the same time. Not a pretty sight. Trust me. At moments like this, you seriously question yourself and the things you do.
At the hospital they took care of my nasty wound and told me that walking would be very challenging the next few weeks, because although there is nothing seriously wrong, my knee was heavily bruised and I’d probably be in the sofa for the next few days and I needed to walk through the pain once the would heals, but that my leg would be extremely sore. The fact that I had to learn a dozen of young models how to run the catwalk that same w-end felt very ironic to me. That would be interesting: “Hello models. I will teach how to walk. But unfortunately today. I can’t. So you’ll have to take my word on it.”
Anyway. That was that. No concert. No Cee Lo. No Polaroid. Just pain and painfully lost Euro’s for a drive, a hotel room and an expensive ER doctor. But hey, they say pain is only weakness leaving the body and money comes and goes, so weeks later my leg healed and I decided to give it another shot when I heard that the Cee Lo concert was rescheduled in Amsterdam. I swear to GOD. I was just about to book yet again a new hotel room in Amsterdam when I found out that the concert was cancelled. AGAIN! Due to miscommunications and disagreements between the management and the venue. but still. cancelled. I had it up to here. I put my Cee Lo Polaroid aspirations on the bottom shelve and left it for what it was. Maybe it simply was not meant to be. I left them there untill two months ago. Cee Lo was scheduled in Belgium in a venue called Trix. I was very cautious. I managed to get me some free tickets and this time the concert was much closer to home, but with the vibe hanging around this story, I remained frosty like Oscar Mike.
The blog stories were a bit on a low by that time. Not many artists were touring and it has been a while since I went out chasing for a new story. Another thing you should know is that by that time, my blog assistant and partner in crime Jules decided that after 3 years she wanted to spent her time in another way and that she was not always going to be there by my side for my future stories. Sometimes when things or ideas grow and strive for evolution, you lose the fun aspect of the idea and things become more serious in a way. It’s like growing up. And Jules decided that the blog became more of a task than a pleasure for her and that she wanted to spend her time on other things. This made me very sad, a good assistant is golden, but I understood that people their interests change over the years and this blog was my baby after all, so I needed to move on without her and look for other solutions. So for this story I had the help from on old college friend of mine, called Elisabeth. Isn’t that a pretty name? Elisabeth just lost her job and was free and willing to do whatever, so she volunteered to help me out with this Cee Lo story.
I was very curious about the Cee Lo performance. I was especially curious about his voice. I heard rumors that Cee Lo live wasn’t really strong and that he couldn’t always achieve the voice range he has on his songs. I was happily surprised to see that the venue was full and that his audience consisted of a mixed crowd including a lot of teenager fans. Ebony Bones opened the show with a bang, but it was pretty clear the audience was waiting for Cee Lo. After keeping the audience 30 minutes on their toes, Cee Lo came on the stage, warmly welcomed by the crowd.
He was accompanied by an all female band called ‘Scarlet Fever’ and they sure were a sight for sore eyes.
I really enjoyed the Cee Lo performance. It was not an epic concert, but it was nice to hear certain songs out live and to experience myself that the vocal range of Cee Lo live should not be doubted. The man’s vocals sound fresh, sharp and on-point. Cee Lo is a winner!
I do feel that the performance would reach another level if there were a few backing vocals instead of a tape, but hey. I was already happy finally seeing the man in the flesh. But i would still love to see him again with a full live band. The minute the concert was done, me and Elisabeth walked immediately outside. I knew the venue enough to gamble on the fact that we might have a shot if we were on a spot close to the tour bus and the artist exit of the venue. We were standing there for 15 minutes with a few very young fans holding cd’s and giant posters to sign when Cee Lo walked out the venue straight to the bus. He seemed very relaxed and immediately a bunch of girls approached him asking him for some pictures and an autograph. He was very friendly and sweet and asked the girls to wait a few minutes, and that he would come back. He stepped into the tour bus and the doors closed. When a few minutes later the tour bus doors opened again, a friendly head from Cee Lo ‘s entourage peeped out his head and said the girls could come up one by one. I decided to wait for my picture and let the girls go before me since the Polaroid takes more than 1 minute, so I waited in front of the door until most girls left and it was my time to go.
And then it was time for me to go. Although he was very nice, I felt immediately that I didn’t have the time to pitch my blog from A to Z and that I needed to get to the Polaroid aspect of the story straight away. You saw that this man was tired, but tired or not, he was still inviting people over one by one on his tour bus for a personal picture or an autograph. I quickly explained my blog and asked him if it was possible to take a Polaroid picture of him. He agreed and it was on. I took a seat on the tour bus sofa, aimed my camera, and 3.2.1….Flashing.Lights.Bingo!
I had to redo 1 of them because he had one shot with his eyes closed, and while we were waiting for the polaroids to come out, more and more girls were standing in line for a picture. Ofcourse, I was holding up the line with my damn Polaroid. The girls were already in the bus when one asked if I couldn’t take a picture for her, since she had nobody to hold the camera for her and pretty soon I was like the Cee Lo Tour Bus Photographer ,with one girl after the other giving me her camera to take a shot with Cee Lo. I was very amused by all this. I watched how shy the girls were and how happy they were to see him and Cee Lo was simply very laid back and nice to each one of them. When I saw that I had two good shots, it was time for me to go. Lord knows I was on that bus long enough now. I shook Cee Lo his hand, thanked him for his cooperation and left the tour bus.
I saw in an interview how Cee Lo explained how grateful he is for his success and that he is very appreciative for his career and his fans. To me, the few moments on the bus were the exact proof of that. He was not in Paris or in London. He was in a little city just outside of Antwerp. Like most stars who performed there, he could have easily get into the tour bus and drive away. Or he could invite some pretty girls to hang out like other artists do, but he genuinely made the decision to take out some time for a picture and an autograph for the few people who thought it was worth the effort waiting in front of his tour bus for a picture. It was nice to witness that.
This story took off all wrong, but the ending couldn’t have been any better. It’s weird how hard it was to begin this story and how smooth things ended up in order to get my picture. For some weird reason it took me 3 weeks to write this story. I might experience my first real writers-block or something, but it just wouldn’t come out. I’m glad it finally did. Doing this blog is fun, but sometimes it can be a real battle. And once in a while, you get hurt along the way. I ended up with a big ugly pink fleshy scar on my knee. When people ask me about it, I call it a scar from a lady killer. My scar might be ugly, but it comes with a beautiful story.
“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”
– Leonard Cohen
Very special thanks to Elisabeth for being my assistant for the night. Job well done missy! 😉